Day 98

10/28/2011

4 Comments

 
Daily Miles: 4
Total Miles: 925
Fish Caught: One 18 inch blue catfish

I woke up around eight this morning to clouds and incoming rain. It’s cooler today, not supposed to get much above sixty with a cold front coming through. As I was going about my morning business of looking for breakfast and checking the World Series score from last night, I met a couple of fellows named Ray and Jerry. They came in yesterday on a catamaran sailboat and were making breakfast and invited me to join them. I had a good time this morning drinking coffee and talking with them, after which we had some pancakes and fried ham that Jerry cooked up. 
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Leaving Demopolis Yacht Basin
After breakfast I set about finishing work on the website and making sure the blog was caught up before sending off some emails and letters. With that done I set about packing my sleeping and cooking gear in the kayak before gathering all my electronics that have been charging. I was ready to go by one-thirty this afternoon and decided that I had to get out of Demopolis this afternoon so that I can get an early start tomorrow morning. 
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Jerry's catamaran
About three miles from the marina is Demopolis Lock and Dam. This one is different than all the others I’ve seen; it is a low head dam with a drop of over thirty feet and a rock ledge down the center of the river with rapids.  I’m sure the fishing has to be great in that area. Immediately after leaving the lock I met a fellow that I met on Monday. He was fishing from a pontoon boat and said that today had been good fishing and gave me some of his extra cut bait. We talked for a few minutes before saying goodbye and I kept going for about a mile and a half when I found a nice beach to pull my kayak out. It was going on four o’clock when I landed, so I rigged up my medium rod with some cut bait and set about making some dirty rice with some fried summer sausage. I also put up my rain fly and hammock before checking my rod. To my delight there was an eighteen inch blue catfish on the other end. After snapping some pictures I cleaned him for tomorrow’s lunch before getting back to my supper.  I fished for a while longer while I ate my rice and sausage, followed by a can of apricots for dessert. It’s going to be a cold night, so I’ve got to get well situated before dark. 

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Rapids below Demopolis Dam
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Making some dirty rice...
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Blue cat. Fourth species of the tour
 

Day 97

10/28/2011

1 Comment

 
Daily Miles: 0
Total Miles: 921
Fish Caught: None

Well, the blog is finally caught up. I spent the better part of this afternoon finishing it, so you are now caught up on the trip. Once again, I apologize for the delays. I also met some new folks today as more and more boaters are coming through that are doing the Loop. They had a boater’s rendezvous up in northern Alabama last weekend so they are now making their way south quickly. The next week or two should see plenty of boaters passing me. 
This evening one of the couples brought me a plate and bag of food! There was a pork sandwich, spicy pickles, pretzels, apples, cookies and a muffin, as well as some drinks. Thank you so much! 
 

Day 96

10/28/2011

0 Comments

 
Daily Miles: 0
Total Miles: 921
Fish Caught: None

Once again, not much going on today, although I did get to the post office and ship that gear. Also some more work on the blog.
 

Day 95

10/28/2011

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Daily Miles: 0
Total Miles: 921
Fish Caught: None

I didn’t end up doing too much today, but I did get the box of extra gear packed and ready to ship home. I also worked on some of my late blog posts, so don’t worry, they are coming. These last couple of weeks have gotten away from me, so my goal is to have the blog caught up by the time I leave.
 

Day 94

10/28/2011

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Daily Miles: 0
Total Miles: 921
Fish Caught: None

Well I woke up today with the goal of culling some of my gear and unnecessary equipment from my kayak before trying to stuff two weeks of food into it. Looking back I can say that I succeeded, but it took the entire day. I was definitely the talk of the dock today as people watched me pull so much gear out of my little kayak and sort it on the dock. Several people approached me throughout the day expressing their doubt that I could fit everything back in. I finally finished around four o’clock this afternoon. I also finally came up with a way to make getting my water jugs out of the rear of the kayak easier. I simply tied a pull rope to the ones in the very back, so now it won’t take me ten minutes to fish out a gallon of water. It only took me three months to do this!
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My gear...
After a long afternoon I went to the New Orleans Steak and Seafood restaurant right here in the marina and got seafood pasta with a trip to the salad bar. It was good pasta with lots of cheese, shrimp and crawdads. I ended today by Skyping with Karin. 
 

Day 93

10/27/2011

1 Comment

 
Daily Miles: 23
Total Miles: 921
Fish Caught: None

Before I talk about today, I have to tell you about last night. After it got dark but before I fell asleep, I kept hearing all of this frantic rustling going on all around me by something, but I didn’t know what it was. Normally, it wouldn’t be that big of a deal, but when it’s dark and you can’t see it, your nerves get a little on edge. So periodically I would try to see what it was by shining my flashlight in the bushes all around me. Finally, after a half hour of this, I finally spotted what it was: an armadillo. I’ve seen them before, but they were usually dead on the side of the road. This one saw my light and started following it until he was sitting right beside me, just staring at me. They are one of the funniest looking animals, kind of like an armored possum with a head that’s too small for his body. He did some rooting around in the leaves, ran around a tree and came back to stare at me for another minute before running off. 
Anyway, I woke up around sunrise to some serious fog and more shotgun blasts. Apparently the dove hunters wanted some early morning action as well. I got up around seven to cook some breakfast. By the time I had eaten, my toes were numb and I went to sit in my hammock until the sun warmed things up. I finally got on the water shortly before nine and started making my way to Demopolis. After yesterday’s good mileage I decided that I could make it all the way to Demopolis today. Demopolis doesn’t show any marinas online or in waterway guides, but talking to boaters along the way I found that there is in fact a good marina, so it looks as though it will be my final supply stop until I reach Mobile. 
I finally reached the Demopolis Yacht Basin around four this afternoon after passing the intersection of the Tombigbee and Black Warrior rivers, which signals the end of the Tenn-Tom Waterway and the beginning of the Lower Tombigbee/Black Warrior River. The yacht basin is a large business in addition to the slips and fuel; there is a large dry-storage area for yachts, a major repair shop and a large fuel dock for tows. There were a few fueling up when I arrived and someone told me that they take on six thousand gallons of fuel at the time!
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Demopolis, Alabama
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Tows refueling
I spent the rest of daylight showering (I was really needing one) and borrowing the courtesy car to go into town for supplies. Before I left I met a few boaters that I had met back at Grand Harbor.  Since this is my last planned stop for the next two hundred miles, I had to shop for two weeks worth of groceries. After that I stopped to get some fast food for a snack to watch tonight’s football game. When I got back to the marina I met Kurt and Monica, the couple from Sweden that I met at Clifton Marina. This is the end of their trip for this year and their sailboat is being stored here at the dry dock while they go back to Sweden for a year. We talked for a few minutes before saying goodbye and I unloaded my groceries. 
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Kurt and Monica from Sweden
Directly across the dock from me is a couple that I met in Grand Harbor and they invited me to join them for some brats. I’m always up for food, so I spent the evening eating brats, potato salad and talking with them. Today was a full day and that was a nice way to end it. 
 

Day 92

10/27/2011

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Daily Miles: 25
Total Miles: 898
Fish Caught: None

I woke up this morning to the warm sun in my face and a beautiful day. Last night was noisy with all kinds of animals. Sometime early this morning there were coyotes howling everywhere, as well as something rustling behind me before I fell asleep last night. I also heard some hogs squealing (I forgot about those!) and some owls hooting. Anyway, this morning I got on the water a little after nine for another day of paddling. Another beautiful day complete with some bright, white cliffs on the river and some wildlife; I saw some wild hogs running on one side of the river, a couple of deer and a bald eagle. 
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Beautiful white cliffs
Early this afternoon I met a guy named Jerry who was fishing and wanted to know what I was up to. We talked for a few minutes and he gave me a cold Pepsi and some peanut butter crackers before I said goodbye and continued on. There were a few more white cliffs today before I started looking for a campsite. I ended up paddling for an hour along some steep and muddy banks before finding a campsite. I finally found one sandwiched in between two cliffs, with a cliff behind it. As I set up camp I realized that there was a large dove hunt going on in the field on top of the cliff. It sounded like a war going on around me as I cooked some rice for supper and shielded myself from falling shot. An interesting end to the day.
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Jerry the fisherman
 

Day 91

10/27/2011

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Daily Miles: 18
Total Miles: 873
Fish Caught: None

Today was another beautiful paddling day with little wind. I was able to get some good miles in as I keep getting farther into Alabama. I’ve started seeing some Spanish moss from time to time, as well as some short palm fronds on occasion. This afternoon I came to the next lock, but my VHF radio was dead for some reason so I couldn’t call the lockmaster. The gates were open, but I still wanted them to know I was there before going in; however, after pulling the small craft alert rope there was no response. I did this for awhile, rather frustrated, until finally I decided to just paddle into the chamber and see if they noticed me. I sat in the chamber waving my paddle and arms with no result. My phone had also been dead, so I paddled out of the chamber to the shore where I put my phone on one of my solar chargers. After a few minutes I was finally able to call the lock and have them put me through. They were nice enough, but I was pretty ticked that they had taken that long to notice me. 
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Camp below the lock
By the time I got through it was after three, so I spent the next hour searching for a campsite before finding one about a mile and a half below the lock. Cooked some supper and tea before settling in for the night. 
 

Day 90

10/27/2011

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Daily Miles: 18
Total Miles: 855
Fish Caught: None

Another chilly morning today; my toes were pretty cold while cooking breakfast. A mega-yacht also came roaring by and didn’t even slow down (which they are required to do by law), throwing a three foot wake that almost flipped my kayak at the edge of the water. Also got my socks wet. I got on the water by nine and finally got some sunlight to warm up my cold toes. Today was still a little breezy, but nothing crazy and most of it was a tailwind anyway. It was a nice day for paddling and I got some good miles in. All that sitting around last week was getting to me, so it’s nice to finally be paddling again. 
 

Day 89

10/27/2011

0 Comments

 
Daily Miles: 0
Total Miles: 837
Fish Caught: None
Sure enough, that cold front came blasting through last night. Today has been extremely windy but luckily no rain. Still, with the wind and chilly temperatures this morning, I’ve spent most of the day waiting to see if the conditions would improve.  With little improvement by one o’clock, I decided to just wait for tomorrow and better weather.